Anthony Thomas was born in Adelaide in 1949. He attended Adelaide
Boys High School, winning the Thomas Price Scholarship (as top student
in the State in the Leaving Examinations) in 1966. He was awarded the
BHP Medal in 1967 as the top student in South Australia in
Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry in the (new) Matriculation
After obtaining a PhD at Flinders University (where he was awarded
the University Medal in 1971), he took a Killam Postdoctoral
Fellowship at the University of British Columbia in Canada, stimulated
by the imminent start of operations at TRIUMF. In 1975 he was offered
one of the two foundation positions in the Theory Group (along with
Harold Fearing) at the new laboratory, which he accepted subject to a
one-year period of leave taken in the Theory Division of CERN.
He served as secretary to the Experiment Evaluation Committee,
which had responsibility for evaluating proposals for beam time, and
then chaired it from 1981 to 1987. In 1982 he took leave from TRIUMF
to go to CERN as a Staff Member the Theory Division. While there he
served a term on the Proton Synchrotron and Synchro-Cyclotron
In 1983 an offer came for the Chair of Physics in Adelaide, which
he accepted. He arrived in Adelaide in February 1984. He later served
as Deputy Chairman of the Physics Department and for four years as the
first Head of the new Department of Physics and Mathematical
Physics. He also served as Associate Dean of the Faculty of Science,
and was elected to the University Council from 1991 to 1997.
In 1989 he was appointed Elder Professor of Physics - the sixth
person to hold the chair first held in 1886 by Sir William Bragg. He
was elected a fellow of the American Physical Society in 1987 and the
Australian Academy of Science (AAS) in 1990. In 1987 he won the Walter
Boas Medal (of the Australian Institute of Physics, the AIP), and in
1991 the Inaugural Silver Jubilee Commemoration Medal of Flinders
From 1991 to 1993 he served as President of the Australian
Institute of Physics. This was an exciting period during which the
first Strategic Plan for Physics in Australia was created and his
involvement in the AIP continued as chair of the Strategic Plan
Implementation Committee as well as serving from time to time on the
Boas Medal Selection Committee.
From 1991 to 1996 he held an Australian Research Council Senior
Research Fellowship and from 1996 to 1999 an ARC Special Investigator
Award. In 1992 he was awarded a Research prize by the Alexander von
Humboldt Research Foundation.
Prof. Thomas served on the Council of the Australian Academy of
Science (AAS) from 1992 to 1995, including a term as Vice-President
from 1994 to 1995.
Following the recommendation of the Strategic Plan for Physics it
was proposed to hold a competition to host the proposed National
Institute for Theoretical Physics. The National Committee for Physics
(of the AAS) awarded the honour to Adelaide University, in partnership
with the ANU, UNSW and Flinders University in 1995, with Prof. Thomas
as Director. Since that time the NITP has hosted well over 50
workshops and conferences at the partner institutions and
Under the framework of the NITP, a bid was prepared for a more
specialized research centre working in nuclear and particle
theory. This led to the award of the Australian Research Council
Special Research Centre for the Subatomic Structure of Matter (CSSM
for short) in 1997.
The CSSM has been widely recognised as one of the world's major
centres for research in theoretical subatomic physics and details of
its staff, its workshops, visitor program, publications and other
activities may be found on the Centre's web pages
Prof. Thomas was elected a Fellow of the (UK) Institute of Physics
in 1996. In 1997 the University of Adelaide recognised his
achievements through the award of the Stephen Cole the Elder Prize for
Scholarship. In the same year the Academy of Science awarded him the
Thomas Ranken Lyle Medal. This was followed by the Harrie Massey Medal
(of the UK Institute of Physics) in 2000.
In 2004, Prof. Thomas was invited to take up the position of Chief
Scientist and Associate Director for Theoretical and Computational
Physics at Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, one of the
US Department of Energy's two major fundamental nuclear physics
laboratories. As well as having line management responsibility for
over 300 scientists and engineers he held responsibility for the
quality of entire scientific program of the laboratory, with its more
than 1200 international scientific users.
Under his leadership the US$300M upgrade of the laboratory, to
double its energy and add a new experimental hall was accorded the top
priority in the 2007 Long Range Plan for US Nuclear Science.
In 2009 Prof. Thomas returned to the University of Adelaide as
an ARC Australian Laureate Fellow, one of only two appointed
from outside Australia. He is now
Director of the University Research Centre for Complex Systems and
the Structure of Matter, which incorporates the CSSM but aims for
a more diverse research program building upon the expertise in
mathematical modelling and high performance computing that has
developed around CSSM.
Most recently, Prof. Thomas is Associate Director of Australian
Research Council Centre of Excellence in Particle Physics at the
Tera-scale. This Centre, which was formed by a national consortium
involving Adelaide, Melbourne, Monash and Sydney Universities, will
coordinate Australian research at the Large Hadron Collider at
In 2014 he was recognised
South Australian Scientist of the Year.
Prof. Thomas's work has received more than 18,000 citations
in the HEP-Spires data-base, with an h-index of 72. In addition
to the numerous awards and prizes mentioned earlier, Prof. Thomas was
awarded a Centenary Medal (2003).
Prof. Thomas has served on numerous national and international
committees. He was Secretary of Commission C12 (Nuclear Physics) of
the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) from 1996
to 2002; he served as Chair of the National Committee for Physics
(AAS) and the IUCF Visiting Committee and he also served on the Beirat
at the Nuclear Physics Institute of FZ-Jülich. He served as
the Chair of the Working Group on International Cooperation (WG.9) of
the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics from its
inauguration in 2005 until 2011 and now serves as past-Chair. In that
role he also served on the OECD Global Science Forum Working Group on
Nuclear Physics (2006-2008), which prepared a world-wide roadmap for
research facilities in fundamental nuclear science. He is currently
Vice-Chair of the Asian
Nuclear Physics Association.